Currently perched on top of the e-books bestseller lists, Samantha Young's On Dublin Street has been causing a ruckus among romance readers, particularly those who appreciate the dominating billionaire trope. Tori Benson covered it in her September Erotics post, saying “THIS is the book to read for 2012.” So as we did in January, when Fifty Shades of Grey was just the hottest e-book around, we've asked the H&H bloggers to read the book and share their thoughts:
Having been a casual erotica reader, I like my spice with a storyline and was thrilled to find one here. This is one of those books that I tried a sample of on my Kindle and clicked the “buy it” line pretty much the second I got to the end. What can I say, I’m a sucker for a heroine with a troubled past, and like Dickens said “kill off the parents; it gives the main character the right woeful note at the start.” Between Joss having no family and Braden having a father with commitment issues, is it any wonder that we have two characters that start with the sex and then discover they really like each other?
What was interesting to me is the amount of time we spent, as readers, building their relationship prior to them ever getting together. The layers built the tension and you were able to see him as something other than a smoking-hot high powered businessman and she was something more than a writer/bartender with a troubled past. He cared about his sister, she loved her friends and the two of them lived in an actual world instead of a snowbound car or a resort with no other human contact and within that world they managed to fall into bed together.
The best (non-sex) part to me for the development of this storyline was the character of the therapist—the way the sessions were spliced in helped build the conflict and tension for Joss and Braden in a way that made up for the single character, first person point of view.
If anyone could uproot Fifty Shades of Grey from the #1 spot it’s been anchored to the past umpteenth weeks, its On Dublin Street. And I think it’s deserving of the crown. The book starts off what a very sad background story about the book’s heroine, Joss, from when she was a kid. It defines the character and connects the reader to her in the same step. It was hard for me not to “feel” for her after that. Even if along the way some of the resistance she showed throughout the story seemed a little much, all was forgiven because of where she came from. Her character totally got under my skin.
I liked how fast the plot ran. (It’s close to impossible to put down) But I was consumed by the chemistry between Joss and her love interest. It was scorching hot. The love scenes were erotic while also being sensual, and their build-up wasn’t just placed in such a way to keep a reader hooked into a mediocre story. Their push and pull is just part of a whole story, not the entirety of it. It’s exactly what I like in my romance novels; a little complexity mixed in with the racy bits. This book was all win for me.
I love angsty romance. Sometimes I want the couple to have to go through a lot of crap before they get their HEA. When I start seeing the positive reviews and high praise for On Dublin Street, I knew I had to read this book. Unfortunately, I am in the minority. I did not love this book. It was meh with okay parts in between. At times I found it boring and some parts dragged. The drama between Joss and Braden dragged far too long. I could not muster up any sympathy for Joss. I kept waiting for the moment when I would say 'Poor Joss I feel so bad for her' and it never happened. She has closed herself off but instead of it feeling like she’s still grieving, it comes off as bitchy and mean.
I enjoyed the secondary characters the most. Ellie, Adam, the folks that worked with Joss at the club. They held my interest because I felt they had more personality. I was more invested in Ellie and Adam’s relationship than in Joss and Braden. Braden was sexy as well as the sex scenes. I felt that Braden was portrayed as an all-around good guy. He had oodles of personality and wasn’t the brooding type.
I was hoping to be emotionally invested in Joss and her road to dealing with her family’s death. I never happened. The story is told in 1st person POV and we never get out of Joss’s head and at times, I wish we had. She’s not an interesting person. Her inner dialog was repetitive. Yes, we know you lost your family. Yes, we know it sucks. Yes, you’ve closed yourself off to people because you don’t want to love and get hurt again. We get it. But if that’s the case, why live with a roommate? She was a boring contradiction and I wasn’t completely buying her story.
I don’t think that On Dublin Street is angsty enough to compare it to Bared To You or the Fifty series. The sex is vanilla. The hero isn’t messed up or super dominating and controlling. The only similarities is that Braden is rich and older than Joss (he’s 30, she’s 22) and the heroine has issues. But don’t we all?
On Dublin Street is a standard Contemporary Romance that reproduces some of the oldest tropes in the genre. If you have read a Harlequin Presents, then you will recognize most of the elements in the story: the hero is a millionaire, overbearing alpha; the heroine is damaged, whiny and young; the attraction between them is instantaneous; and the plot is over the top, angsty and predictable. However, it’s enjoyable almost to the point of addictive.
This book isn’t particularly good, but it’s remarkably entertaining. And as much as I would like to criticize it, I have to admit that even some of the trite tropes were handled in unexpected ways—the heroine has a backbone and the hero is domineering, but knows how to give her space. It’s a story that doesn’t try to be anything else but a fun experience. I found it refreshing in that I was able to enjoy a plot and characters that I have encountered many times before, and that I thought I had grown tired of years ago.
I didn’t think it was for me—not even while I was enjoying it—but in the end I was thoroughly entertained. And in this particular case, that’s what counts.
As a heavy reader of straight romance and erotic romance, I have found myself becoming bored by the seemingly repetitive outpouring that is the norm lately. Ever since Fifty Shades of Grey released and became a literary phenomenon, everyone and their mother has jumped on the bandwagon and tried their hand at recreating a Christian and Ana money-making romance. The more shocking the BDSM displayed, the better. While I love erotic romance, the overly dominant older alpha and the young, virginally clueless female has officially gotten old. Forcing someone into a relationship is a tricky trope to write and not many get it right.
What I enjoyed about On Dublin Street was the lack of a BDSM-based romance. The sex is steamy and their chemistry is off the charts, but it’s not the main focus of the story. Rather, it’s used to identify and track their blossoming feelings for one another. While our hero is an alpha and our heroine has deep-seated issues, we aren't forced to believe that the hero will solve all the heroine’s problems because he’s rich, dominant, and has a “special room.” These are two people who are equals—in and out of bed. Both have money, both are well educated, and both work. The dialogue between them and others is what solidified the story for me. No breathless sighs or deep growly orders...this couple actually talked and listened to one another. Neither took the other for granted, though I will mention that they both were quick to assume at times.
Though I felt towards the end that our heroine’s problems became more of an excuse for her to run away from situations she didn’t like, Ms. Young does a good job of overcoming this and leaves us with an acceptable resolution between our couple.
Reading On Dublin Street is inevitably colored by its similarities to Fifty Shades, as most of the H&H bloggers have commented: Dominating, alpha billionaire, entering into a sexual relationship with a young woman. But what struck me most were the differences. Unlike Christian and Ana, Braden and Joss are equals. Joss is the way more damaged of the two, and she doesn't see Braden as either her savior or her protector. In fact, she bristles at the idea she needs anyone close to her (and pushes people away when they try). Plus there's the sex, which is hot, but vanilla-hot, not kinked up in any way. I really appreciated that we got to see the couple's courtship before we saw them in bed (again, unlike Fifty). Plus it wasn't as though the two existed in a vacuum (or a red room) where only their decisions and personalities could affect the other. Joss is profoundly affected by her friendship with Ellie, and with Ellie's family, as well as to a lesser extent with her coworkers. Then there are the therapy scenes, which seem realistic and crucial to Joss's emerging as a more healthy iteration of herself. And the writing in On Dublin Street is polished and nuanced, even when describing something outside of the bedroom. Thanks for the rec, Tori!
It took the first third of On Dublin Street to sell me. Once the relationship wheels started turning—around 33 percent in—I was hooked. There was no stopping me finishing the book. You want to know why everyone is buzzing about this book? One word: Braden. Seriously. The hero of On Dublin Street is the kind of man romance readers go gooey for (myself included). He’s powerful and passionate. He’s possessive, but would never encourage his love to do something she didn’t want. He’s gorgeous and rich, but somehow incredibly grounded. He puts family above all else. Plus, he’s all sorts of amazing in bed. (Oh, and he wants a commitment.)
That, readers, is why everyone loves On Dublin Street. We want to date Braden. That isn’t to say theother characters aren’t engaging; they are. But it’s this powerful male that makes the book.
The writing is the best I’ve seen in a self-published title. Though, long descriptive passages can slow the flow at times, I just didn’t care once the story became about Braden convincing Joss that they should be in a relationship.